Pirouettes, precision and pointe shoes — a few words to embody the 2016 Wittenberg Faculty and Senior Dance Concert.
Over 25 student dancers performed 14 pieces for the concert that took place on April 28, 29 and 30 at Chakeres Memorial Theater.
“Dance is what keeps me going. It’s therapeutic and beautiful and athletic, and I love it,” dancer Mattie Stevens, ’17, said. “And I love showcasing something I’m passionate about to the Wittenberg community.”
The performances included genres of jazz, hip-hop, ballet, lyrical and tap, and the songs dancers performed to ranged from “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Steven Sharp Nelson to “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber to “Madness” by Muse.
“It’s been amazing to put my pointe shoes on again and do what I love most,” dancer Evelyn Ritzi, ’17, said. “Generally, it’s always amazing to be on stage. I’m able to completely forget about everything else and just focus on having fun and expressing myself. It’s a great stress reliever, especially at college.”
While in the past, faculty have choreographed some of the pieces, this year all 14 pieces were choreographed by seniors involved in the Wittenberg dance program.
Overall, there were six choreographers: Heather Feese, Rebecca Fiete, Linzey Rice, Nicole Cooney, Kieran Conway and Amanda Deweese.
“When I go to choreograph a piece, I usually find a piece of music with a story that inspires me or I begin with a concept that I want to focus on,” choreographer Feese said. “My piece this semester is all about learning to take in the perspectives of other people so that we become more well-rounded people.”
The preparation for the spring dance concert began in January, even though choreographers often start forming their ideas before then, according to choreographer Fiete.
Each choreographer holds auditions and then selects the dancers that they would like to have participate in their piece, Fiete said.
Fiete also said that while each choreographer has her own creative process, they all usually create a timeline and schedule to stay on track for the performances.
“I cannot believe my time dancing and choreographing at Wittenberg is just about up. It has been an amazing, rewarding, unforgettable experience,” Fiete said. “Everyone works so hard to put their best out on that stage, and I am so happy to be finishing with a concert of which I feel we can all be very proud.”
After the choreographers have chosen their dancers, they hold practices once a week for each of their pieces, according to dancer Jessica Jeffries, ’16.
Then, the last week the dancers have up/downs, where they have a half hour practice every day for each piece. Finally, they have three dress rehearsals the week before the dance concert, Jeffries said.
“Though the Wittenberg Dance department may not be like Julliard or NYU, we are just as passionate about the art form,” Stevens said. “I am so thankful for the growth I have experienced in the dance department. I have had leadership opportunities, the ability to choreograph multiple dances, as well as complete artistic freedom.”